- Being good has its rewards in this life,
as well as in the next.
- Research conducted partly at the University
of Colorado at Boulder has found that regular churchgoers live longer than
people who seldom or never attend worship services.
- For the first time, that extra lifespan
has been quantified. While there are differences between genders and races,
in general those who go to church once or more each week can look forward
to about seven more years than those who never attend.
- Life expectancy beyond age 20 averages
another 55.3 years, to age 75, for those who never attend church compared
to another 62.9 years, age 83, for those who go more than once a week.
- The research showed that people who never
attended services had an 87 percent higher risk of dying during the follow-up
period than those who attended more than once a week.
- The research also revealed that women
and blacks can enjoy especially longer lives if they are religiously active.
- The findings are contained in a study
conducted jointly by Rick Rogers, of CU-Boulder, Robert Hummer and Christopher
Ellison, of the University of Texas at Austin, and Charles Nam, from Florida
- Rogers is a professor of sociology and
a professional research associate with the population program at the university's
Institute of Behavioral Science. The study drew on a 1987 National Health
Interview Survey of more than 28,000 people and focused on more than 2,000
who died between 1987 and 1995.
- Rogers said previous studies had examined
and established links between religion, health outcomes and lower risks
of mortality but this research broke new ground by testing those relationships
against a number of variables.
- The research team factored in such elements
as education and income, social ties (including marital status and having
friends and relatives to count on), and health status and behavior, including
such things as smoking and alcohol use.
- For example, educated and better off
people, who have lower mortality, were more likely to attend church, while
churchgoers generally were less likely to engage in such high risk health
behaviors as smoking and excessive drinking.
- Frequent churchgoers were also more likely
to take part in social activities and enjoy a good supporting network of
family and friends, which could help them avoid, or at least cope better
with, times of stress or personal difficulty.
- However, even after taking into account
all these external factors and controlling the independent variables, the
researchers found a "strong association" still persisted between
infrequent or no religious attendance and higher mortality risk.
- Researchers also found distinct and related
patterns when looking at causes of death. For example, those who never
attend services are about twice as likely to die from respiratory disease,
diabetes or infectious diseases.
- Rogers said this research established
the importance of religious involvement as a fundamental cause of mortality.
It also opened the door to further research perhaps examining religious
attendance by denomination and looking at the less tangible spiritual issues.
- The research findings were published
this month in the latest edition of the prestigious national journal Demography
and will be included in a book, "Living and Dying in the USA,"
due out in August.
- Note: This story has been adapted from
a news release issued by University Of Colorado At Boulder for journalists
and other members of the public. If you wish to quote from any part of
this story, please credit University Of Colorado At Boulder as the original
source. You may also wish to include the following link in any citation:
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